The New International Encyclopædia/Struensee, Johann Friedrich von

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STRUENSEE, strōō′en-zā, Johann Friedrich von, Count (1737-72). A Danish statesman, born August 5, 1737, at Halle, Saxony. He studied medicine, became the physician of King Christian VII. (q.v.) of Denmark (1768), and rose to the highest favor. In 1771 he was made Minister of State with unusual powers. Since the Revolution of 1660 Denmark had been under the domination of the nobility, who as a council of State governed the country. Struensee dissolved the council, and proclaimed the establishment of the ancient royal power. These measures amounted in reality to a revolution, and to a declaration of war against the aristocracy. The Queen and Struensee, in whose hands the whole power now was, chose new ministers, and excluded the feeble Christian entirely from the management of affairs. In opposition to the policy of his predecessors, Struensee endeavored to free Denmark from Russian influence, and to find a natural ally in Sweden. He put the finances in order, reduced the expenditure, freed industry and trade, encouraged education, mitigated the penal laws, and brought order into the administration. Serfdom was partially abolished. The haste with which this revolutionary course was pursued produced a reaction, while the clergy were aroused by Struensee's outspoken skepticism. The Queen and Struensee were accused of criminal relations and the King was prevailed upon, apparently against his will, to sign warrants for the arrest of Struensee. The Minister was accused of having conspired against the person and throne of the King, and of being the lover of the Queen. He was sentenced to death and executed April 28, 1772. Queen Carolina Matilda left Denmark in May, 1772, and died in 1775 in the castle of Celle in Hanover. Consult Struensee et la cour de Copenhague — mémoires de Reverdil (Paris, 1858).